Latam Booklook: "What we see when we read" by Peter Mendelsund

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Have you ever wondered what is behind the images we form in the mind when we read? Peter Mendelsund reflects on this in this book

Latam Booklook: "What we see when we read" by Peter Mendelsund

What is it about?

In What we see when we read (2014) , Peter Mendelsund reflects on the exercise of reading; more specifically, about the exercise of seeing when reading. From readings of works by great authors such as Virginia Woolf, Gustave Flaubert, Dickens, Joyce, etc. he asks what we really see when a narrator describes a character, a place, a space or an object and in that order, how reading works and what impact it has on our lives and our mental images from a tool as powerful as language is.

Leer en español: Latam Booklook: "Qué vemos cuando leemos" de Peter Mendelsund

But what we see when we read is not only a book about the exercise of reading, but it plays with that exercise from an incredible design, avant-garde and sober. In the first instance, when we see the cover (which by the way was designed by the same author) white in Spanish and black in English, we cannot imagine that when we open it we will find the amount of images and exquisite design inside. Black leaves with a small white word throughout the center, photos intervened, images of paintings and sculpture, folded sheets, etc. All with an order that has purpose and with the ability to appeal to the reader in such a way that generates emotion and tranquility.

Who wrote it?

Peter Mendelsund is a renowned graphic designer specialized in book covers, is Associate Creative Director of Alfred A. Knopf Books and is a classical pianist; but, above all, Menedelsund is a reader. That's exactly what led him to write this book, his love for literature.

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Mendelsund has a Bachelor of Philosophy from Columbia University, he is also Artistic Director of Pantheon Books and Vertical Press. Among his most recognized works we can find the covers of the trilogy of the Girl of the tattooed dragon, the collection of the complete work of Kafka of the publisher Schocken Books, among others.

Besides what we see when we read, Mendelsund has written Cover (2014) and this year he released Same Same: A Novel.

Do I read it or not?

Although it is a book that works very well as an object (and it is a work of art), it is very well written and easily read. What we see when we read does not go beyond the basic notions of the exercise of reading. The author mentions very interesting data and is constantly reflecting on what happens in our mind when we form an image thanks to reading, so much so that he never talks about reception as such and everything that it implies.

It is clear that this happens because from the beginning the author does not propose this explicitly, but what he seeks is to bring readers to reflect on the exercise of reading. I recommend the book if you are interested in understanding more about the reading process, if you enjoy a very good design. It is a good book to begin to enter the world of the phenomenology of reading.


LatinAmerican Post | Vanesa López
Translated from "Qué vemos cuando leemos, de Peter Mendelsund"